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Media Coverage
Council Delays Fire, Renovation Issues
November 30, 1997


Sunday, November 30, 1997
Section: West County
Page: A40
Scott Andrews 

RICHMOND Two highly political issues before the City Council died a quick death this week when members decided not to put fire services out to bid and shelved a plan to refurbish city facilities. 

The first proposal, which would have set in motion a process to consider replacing the Richmond Fire Department with an outside agency, was partly fallout from the recent campaign over city tax Measure H. 

The proposal's sponsor, Councilman Tom Butt, supported the defeated tax. 

The firefighters union opposed it, despite the fact it would have improved their firehouses and firetrucks. That position earned Butt's scorn, who said the union is working against fire department financing while demanding better compensation in ongoing union negotiations. 

The second proposal also rose from the tumult over Measure H. Butt proposed implementing an alternative plan to Measure H, proposed by Councilman Nat Bates in an anti-tax campaign brochure. Butt challenged the alternative as unrealistic and deceptive. 

In the end, even Bates voted against his proposal. Butt was the only no vote in a 6-1 decision to table the plan. 

Butt said the proposals, which had little chance of passage, were partly prankish. 

"I had a hard time keeping a straight face," said Butt, who frequently agitates for change in city government. But he said there was a serious point to bringing up the "Bates plan," even after the Measure H election has ended to hold Bates accountable for his campaign statements. 

In the campaign piece, Bates argued the state government would pay for an $8.2 million city radio-dispatch system. City administrators denied that. 

Bates did not publicly offer any proof. 

He could not be reached Friday for comment. 

Henry Hornsby, president of the firefighters union, said Friday that the fire department ought to expand, not be eliminated. He proposed serving Pinole, Richmond's neighboring city, which is considering eliminating its fire department to trim costs.